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MATTIE + MARGOT Designing for Dogs

Welcoming a new pet to any family is an exciting time. Going to the local shelter or visiting a litter of newborn puppies and choosing a four-legged friend becomes a memorable moment for everyone involved. Once adopted, the new pup’s personality will shine through, and finding a collar to match it is an important part of pet ownership. Most pet parents will travel to the local pet store to pick up their pet’s attire, but for those who want something unique, look for MATTIE + MARGOT designs.

In 2011, Santa Claran Rachael Young noticed her large dog, Mattie, chewing the plastic buckles off the collars of her two smaller dogs, Margot and Cooper. She was constantly buying new collars and her frustration prompted her to find a better option. Young discovered metal buckle collars online and knew Mattie wouldn’t be able to sink her teeth into them. Her only problems: finding styles she liked for all three dogs and the long lead times for collars from handmade shops.

“I decided to create my own collars, learning how to sew on a Craigslist-bought sewing machine,” she says. “After making many successful prototypes, I ran a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a large initial batch of supplies and opened my shop on Etsy.”

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MATTIE + MARGOT is a line of handcrafted, made-to-order leashes and bow ties designed to match silver buckle collars, which also come in a 23K gold upgrade option.

“[I] found a small, local gold plating business that could plate over my existing hardware,” she says. “This way, I don’t have to sacrifice quality and I got real 23K gold, rather than the traditional brass hardware used in collars.”

Before the end of the year, Young expects to add a 3-foot shorty leash, leash coupler and rose gold option for a more inclusive line and “truly one-of-a-kind” collar.

“The 23K gold and rose gold hardware definitely sets my shop apart from other handmade dog shops, and, in addition to that, I use only the best of the best materials, even though they’re more expensive for me,” she says.

Of the materials she uses, Young says her metal buckles are top of the line, other hardware is die cast opposed to a weaker welded option, nylon webbing is both strong and soft and, whenever possible, she sources ribbon from smaller shops.

Another unique feature of MATTIE + MARGOT is its recycling program. When a dog outgrows its collar or it’s time for a change, customers have the option of sending in their collars and having the metal pieces reused. In doing so, they receive a 40 percent discount on a new style. Young also gives them the option of having a key fob created from the nylon and ribbon, a service many customers have utilized as a way to memorialize a deceased pet.

While MATTIE + MARGOT collars are currently only available in the United States through Young’s Etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/mattieandmargot, and website, https://mattieandmargot.com, Young hopes to approach retail outlets about carrying the line, which has continued to grow each year, and says that although the market is currently saturated with less expensive collars and leashes, she believes her product is worth the investment.

“There are tons of handmade dog collar shops on the market now, and I have yet to see another using my same combination of hardware and styles,” she says. “Most of them use cheap collar kits available for purchase online, and the quality is just not there. You’re also getting the eye of an extreme perfectionist, so you can rest assured you’re getting something that’s handcrafted to perfection. I am also the only one using custom-plated 23k gold hardware, and I’m the only shop in the world to use the rose gold blend that was made for me.”

In addition to creating a durable product, Young gives back to the community. For every collar, leash or bow tie sold, she feeds a shelter dog for a day through RescueBank. Since the program started, Young has donated 1,200 meals, with the number steadily rising. Visit https://mattieandmargot.com/pages/giving-back for more information.

MATTIE + MARGOT is part of the WEEKLY’s ongoing Small Business Spotlight series. If you’re a small business owner in Santa Clara and would like to be featured, email scweekly@ix.netcom.com with a brief introduction to your business.

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